Okay Mr.West…

…don’t make me regret this.

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Photo credit: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/kanye-west-graduation-portrait-acrylic-painting-junko-abe.html?product=fleece-blanket&blanketType=blanket-coral-50-60

Let me start by saying, I am writing this as an artist. I am writing this as a student of life. I am not a political blogger therefore I am assuming you are already abreast of the controversy surrounding one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time.  I do not usually provide commentary on societal trends. I am writing this as a tortured creative soul.  I am writing this as a lover of hip hop.  I am writing this as an optimist.

I love hip hop.  I will not mourn Kanye West.  I do not agree with his political views. I am not even sure Kanye West agrees with his political views!  I’m celebrating the parts of him that I can morally subscribe to…his genius.  I will even go so far as to say that I am astounded by his acceptance of himself and of others. He has been saying that he is “leading with love” and that he loves every creature who walked the earth.

I am perplexed by the dichotomy dwelling in Kanye West.  He is talented and articulate.  He is a wordsmith.  Yet, he is thinking clearly (kinda) and he is not successfully conveying the true intent of his actions and thoughts.  In fact, when one mentions that he may be “hurting others” you can see the distress and the SUDDEN awareness on his face as he carefully chooses his words.  How does this happen?

People will take something enlightening, put it in a different context and then call it crazy.  To try to diminish the impact and the value of what I’m actually saying. -Kanye West

 

I was born in 1985.  The artists who have impacted my generation in an astounding way all had a common motif …they were “crazy.”  I don’t even have to mention their names.  You’re thinking of them right now: Michael Jackson, Prince, Left Eye, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston…

They were judged when they were alive.  They were called icons and legends when they died.  Food for thought:  We studied the poetry of Tupac Shakur at Pace University post his death.  We studied the lyrics and videos of Lady Gaga in English Literature at Stonybrook University.  Her “enlightened viewpoints” were compared to the great Edgar Allen Poe.  What measurement do we use to distinguish the difference between brilliance and insanity?

But I know the view is that I’m emotionally unstable, which is reality. Like you aren’t?-Lauryn Hill

One of the most terrible things we do to artists is forget to separate their human form from their ethereal imaginative alter egos.  We have to consider that in order for a person who is of this world to create something out of this world, he or she has to remove their consciousness from the boundaries and constraints of what is accepted as “normal.”  

Bravery is more important than perfection.-Kanye West

I am actually scared to publish this post.  What will you do tomorrow, Mr. West?  What hat will you wear tomorrow, Mr. West?  Will you forget this girl from South Jamaica Queens who bumped “The College Dropout” in my 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix? Will you forget this wannabee rebel who had “The wise man say, you’ll find your way
The wise man say, you’ll find your way” scribbled on the back of my favorite denim jacket?*  This fake actress-Spike Lee geek was glued to the computer screen when you had the balls to release your own full length film, “Runaway.”   I’ve never considered myself a “fan” of anyone really but the respect I have for your talent and perseverance is immeasurable.

I see your pain but I see your passion.  I can disregard the blond hair and the liposuction because that is just a physical representation of a spirit who is lost on a level that he wasn’t fully prepared to ascend to.

We don’t want to mourn you, Sir.  We want to be moved by your music and motivated by your mystique. Get out.

What I see here is nothing but a shell…what is most important is invisible.- Antoine de Saint Exupery (The Little Prince)

By: Shaun Liriano

*Lyrics from Pinocchio Story by Kanye West (808’s & Heartbreak)

 

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Whats Your Malfunction?

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I received a letter from the Schomberg Center For Research in Black Culture.  They thanked me for my regular contribution and support. They also enclosed a survey about ” The Future of Black America.”

I breezed through the questions effortlessly (but who made me an expert on black people?) As I read each question about education,  progression,  current challenges, I answered honestly.  Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’m the right person to submit that feedback.  Obviously,  I’m aware of the issues if I’m already a supporter. If I’m on your mailing list then I’m receiving the necessary information. Shouldn’t we be trying to get feedback from people who dont have easy access to the issues?

I would imagine it would be more prudent to send mass mailings. I would imagine a guy in jeans with hundreds of surveys in a big bag slung over his shoulder.  He should walk up to random people of color and give them the survey to complete on site in real time. Its like blatantly saying, “Hey! What’s your malfunction? ”

I am sometimes offended by the misrepresentation of blacks in places of esteem and the jaded picture of us painted by media.  A week ago there was a report on New York 1 that more black women have had terminations this year than live births.  All I could think was “why are we highlighting black women? What are our counterparts of other ethnicities doing? This is not a ‘race’ issue! PEOPLE are broke and unemployed and scared to start families!”

I read a great book recently called “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.” The author notes the three elements that she thinks define the title: vacant esteem,  ever present anger and racist socialization. (P184)

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With statistics like the one blasted on New York 1 and the continued statistics on the prison population (ex: The inmate population was eighty five percent African American in 2004.)  Present day we still make up 12% of the general population but 1/2 of the prison population. 

Just as a bonus…” 1 in 56 men of Hispanic origin are behind bars (p103.)
Just in case you thought you were exempt from bigotry and intolerance! Yea you over there! 😉

So if someone came up to you questioning the issues of your presumed ethnicity? If they asked you questions that offended you but showed you statistics you couldn’t deny and asked you to be a part of the solution. ..
What would you do?
Most stereotypes are either magnified or exaggerated truths. Some are completely manifested by fear. 

So you..
Yea you over there…

What’s your malfunction?

-Shaun Nickens